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Free standard aims to keep Linux from ending up like Unix

"If I, as a developer, have to port my application to two different distributions of Linux, that is one distribution too many," says Jon "Maddog" Hall, executive director of Linux International.

Maddog's sentiments were shared by hardware and software vendors supporting the non-profit Free Standards Group release of Linux Standard Base (LSB) 2.0, which is designed to assure compatibility of applications running on the various flavors of Linux. He argues that without LSB "we are no better than the proprietary Unix systems of old."

Support for LSB from vendors, including IBM, HP, Intel, AMD, Dell, Novell and Red Hat, "promises to keep Linux from forking and going the way of proprietary systems in the past," says the Free Standards Group.

IDC analysts, who predict the penguin operating system will achieve mainstream status in all markets by the end of 2005, also endorsed the standard.

"Multi-vendor, multi-platform, standards, such as the Linux Standard Base, are obviously a critical success factor if distributors, independent software suppliers and end-user organizations are going to continue to invest in Linux," writes Dan Kusnetzky, IDC's vice president of system software research.

The big improvements in LSB 2.0 include a new application binary interface for C++ and support for 32- and 64-bit hardware architectures, the Free Standards Group says. Because of the large number of applications written in C++, the group notes, the new support makes it cost-effective for software vendors to port their apps to Linux.

On the hardware side, LSB now supports IBM's PowerPC 64, S390 and S390X platforms, Advanced Micro Device's 64-bit Opteron chip, and Intel's 32-bit and 64-bit processors.

The standard is available from the Free Standard Group's Web site at http://www.freestandards.org.

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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